South Africa will complete digital TV migration by December 2013

Technology & Convergence

Communications Minister Radhakrishna Padayachie announced last week that South Africa will complete the process of migrating from analogue to digital television by December 2013. The analogue switch off date was originally set for November 2011 but has since been postponed to December 2013 by the Communications Ministry.

The minister revealed that South Africa would adopt the DVB-T2 standard for digital migration. After the December 2013 deadline, existing analogue TVs will not be able to transmit images but viewers equipped with digital TVs would not experience any problems.
Once the analogue signal has been switched off, those with analogue TVs will need a Set-Top-Box (STB). The box will convert the digital signal to analogue for the analogue TV.  The Minister also mentioned that there were "export opportunities" with regards to STB as other African countries needing help with digital migration could look to South Africa as the manufacturing base of STB.

Padayachie added that this digital migration transition could serve as a catalyst to revitalise the South African electronics manufacturing industry. Among the benefits of going digital, and on top of a clearer broadcast images for viewers, the other dividend is that it will start liberating the spectrum and provide more channels. DVB-T2 will provide viewers access to 14 channels.

Start of January, some media reported that a grouping of aspirant black manufacturers organised labour plan to contest a cabinet decision to adopt a European digital terrestrial television broadcasting standard.

Keith Thabo, the chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronics Components (Namec), said that the organisations would challenge the adoption of Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial (DVB-T2), a second-generation standard, because its introduction would fail to achieve the optimum socioeconomic impact. He said the groups favoured a Japanese standard, which is also used in Brazil, for South Africa’s migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting, which has to be completed by 2015.

Namec is concerned that commercial broadcasters and M-Net, and decoder manufacturers Altech and Reunert, who claim to have spent millions on trials of the European standard, would be the only commercial beneficiaries if South Africa adopted DVB-T2.